Food And Drink : Laphroaig and Maker's Mark Masterclass - Live from Loretto, Kentucky!

25/9/2009 :: 20:00 EDT

The world of whisky is varied and fascinating – with the top distilleries employing centuries of exacting standards to ensure each bottle tastes like a dream. For those who know their Bourbon from their Malts, the history and provenance of their favourite dram adds a flavour of authenticity to the rich aromas and complex, smoky notes that assault the senses in such a seductive way.

This painstaking pursuit of perfection can reveal itself in unexpected and wonderful ways, like the link between Maker’s Mark Bourbon and Laphroaig. From the Ozark mountains from which Maker’s Mark source their oak to the special “air drying” techniques used in preparation of their barrels (after maturing Makers Mark to perfection) they are shipped nearly 4,000 miles from Loretto, Kentucky to the Laphroaig distillery on the south shore of the Isle of Islay. Here, they enjoy a second life creating the unique taste and world-class reputation that Laphroaig expressions are so famous for.

In 2007 Laphroaig held the world’s first ever live online whisky tasting in London garnering one of the highest online broadcast audiences ever. This was followed up by last year’s live broadcast direct from Laphroaig’s home on the Scottish island of Islay gaining an even larger audience.

This year we’ve gathered together some of the world’s top whisky experts and Master Distillers for Distillery Live 2009 direct from the Maker’s Mark distillery in Kentucky. We’ll be tasting Maker’s Mark and a few of the different Laphroaig expressions, exploring how they can be enjoyed in cocktails and even add their subtle flavours to food in cooking. However, there will of course be time to appreciate the glory of both Laphroaig and Maker’s Mark straight.

Joining us for this not-to-be-missed opportunity is President of Maker's Mark Bill Samuels Jr and their Master Distiller Kevin Smith, as well as John Campbell, Distillery Manager for Laphroaig and famous whisky writer John Hansell.

Bill Samuel Jr, John Campbell, Kevin Smith and John Hansell join us live online to take part in this fascinating story of Laphroaig and Maker’s Mark.

For more information visit www.laphroaig.com/live or www.distillerylive.us.com

H: Murray Norton, host
BJ: Bobby Joe, warehouse manager
B: Bill Samuel Jr, President of Maker’s Mark
J: John Campbell, Distillery Manager, Laphroaig
K: Kevin Smith, Master Distiller
JH: John Hansell, Whisky writer
S: Simon Brooking, US ambassador for Laphroaig
BY: Brigitte Gasper, US brand ambassador, Maker’s Mark
JL: Jonathan Lundy, chef Jonathan’s

H: Hello and welcome to Distillery Live coming to you here from the Maker’s Mark Distillery in the heart of Marion County in Kentucky. I’m outside the beautiful 105 year old still building, and it’s just fantastic here. The weather – well it’s gorgeous. Inside – well we’ve got special guests and we’ve got a studio audience, some of whom have travelled quite literally across the globe just to be here. I want you to meet a guy whose been working here at the Maker’s Mark distillery for well what is now 23 years Bobby Joe?

BJ: 23 years

H: 23 years, that’s a long time – what do you actually do?

BJ: I’m the warehouse manager

H: And what does that entail?

BJ: Well we put the whisky, the new whisky into the barrel, put it in the warehouse, age it for 6 years, bring it back and we dump it up to be put into bottles

H: Well you’re going to be keeping an eye on things out here, and whilst you do that, we’re going to get a message from Bill Samuels Jr and he’s the 7th generation of a long line of bourbon makers

B: My name’s Bill Samuels and I’m president of Maker’s Mark Distillery and we welcome John Campbell from Laphroaig here to Kentucky to have a meaningful discussion about craftsmanship in whisky with Kevin Smith, our master distiller and I hope it proves to be of great interest to all of our viewers

H: Well Bill has very kindly introduced us, if you like, to the Maker’s Mark and this fantastic distillery, and I’d like to introduce you to our special panel of guests that we’ve got here. Firstly we’ve got distillery manager Kevin Smith, Kevin welcome along. I hear you’re in charge of – well making sure the production of what 600,000 bottles sales?

K: Hi Murray, hi everybody, I’m not real sure about the exact number, we keep everything in real small batches here so we don’t screw it up, so trying to keep track of the exact number of bottles is probably somebody else’s job, I’m just worried about what it tastes like

H: Well that’s a great job, must be the job of a lifetime

K: It is a job of a lifetime, this is kind of like the pinnacle of distilleries I think for Kentucky bourbon distilleries

H: Well welcome along, great to have you with us. Also we’ve got along there we’ve got John Hansell as well, John welcome along. John is a writer, a connoisseur of whisky, and also in fact the editor of the Malt Advocate as well –

JH: That’s right

H: Good publication that we have in front of us there. Welcome along John. Now for you, you know all about whiskies but what a great atmosphere to be in here

JH: I tell you what, as a whisky enthusiast I’m honoured and privileged to be in between these two guys, John and Kevin and it’s a true honour, and I tell you what, it’s 8 o’clock and I’m thirsty for a whisky so I’m really honoured to be here tonight. Excited to be here tonight

H: Well we’re excited to have you as well John, thank you very much for coming along. Another John at the end there, last but not least John Campbell from the island of Isla where they make Laphroaig whisky, you’re the master distiller. Thank you very much indeed, good to have you with us. And this is a bit warmer than certainly when we were in Isla last year

J: Yes probably at least 50 degrees warmer, but it was nice yesterday, we had nice Scottish weather – brought in some rain for them as well so I feel right at home here!

H: Well make yourself at home, good to have you with us as well. We’ve also got a studio audience as well, so we have friends, ambassadors, lend me your cheers. They’re here and look how lively they look. It’s good to have you with us as well, thank you very much. We’ve also got – well a live global audience. Wherever you are in the world thank you very much indeed for joining us and do stay with us. Please stay with us and if you’ve got any questions send them in on that little box that’s on the bottom there, we’ll do our best to get through as many questions as we possibly can. We want to know where you are, we want to know what you’re doing. We’ve had scores and scores and scores of questions already, we’ll do our very best to get through as many of those questions as we possibly can. Questions in fact that have already come from the Netherlands from India, from Argentina, from Denmark, from Canada, from the UK, from Australia. Actually from some of the states as well, Long Island, New York, Oklahoma – hello to you all and wherever else you might be, please let us know where you are and let us know that you’re watching and we’ll give you a mention if we can possibly do so. Now we are – what some 4000 miles away in that direction where Isla is, and yet we have two whiskies, a bourbon and a whisky here that we’re talking about John Hansell, and there are differences between the two. What’s the difference between a Laphroaig single malt and the Maker’s Mark?

JH: Absolutely are differences, distinct differences – Laphroaig is a single malt scotch – single meaning that it’s the product of just one distillery, malt meaning that it’s made exclusively with malted barley as the grain, and scotch meaning it must be distilled in copper pot stills and aged in oak barrels for a minimum of three years, in Scotland, to be a single malt scotch. Now Maker’s Mark is a bourbon and it’s produced here in Kentucky, but bourbon can be made anywhere in the United States but only in the United States

H: Right

JH: And the grain ingredient for bourbon is the large portion of it is corn. In fact by law it has to be at least 51% corn and the rest of it consists of malted barley and either rye or wheat, and Maker’s Mark actually uses wheat

H: Well we have –

JH: Oh and finally – one more thing I wanted to –

H: Yes yes

JH: It actually has to be distilled – distilled here and in Maker’s Mark it’s a continuous column still then goes to a pot still and the most important thing though also to mention here is that it has to be aged in new chart oak barrels for a minimum of two years

H: We’re going to go to the barrels very shortly but before we do that we’ve got this most fantastic distillery here which you were just talking about Kevin and we’d like to take you on a little tour of the distillery if we can. Now this is just such a special place that it’s been designated a national historical landmark, and if you watch this I’m sure you can see why

Video Footage

H: Well there you can see what a special place this is. Now we were talking before about the differences if you like between the single malt of Laphroaig and the Maker’s Mark. However there is a physical connection between the two Kevin and that of course is these barrels that we’ve got in front – let’s step over to the barrels and you can explain why there’s a difference

K: Sure Murray. As I’m walking over, yes we both make a different – distill it off the still but it’s this combination of the barrels from the – from our distillery and Laphroaig that really starts to add to some unique characteristics, and the best way to take a look at this Murray is to actually get your face and smell inside this barrel

H: Ok

K: So I had Bobby Joe actually loosen this for me, so I’m going to try and pop this off and –

H: And whilst you’re popping that off I’m delighted to say that we’ve got Simon Brooking here, now Simon is the US ambassador for Laphroaig as well, so you’re going to be putting your head in there, right?

S: I hope so. Looking forward to it

H: Ok, we’re looking forward to it as well. And the second barrel being popped open as well. Now we’ve got Brigitte Gasper as well whose the UK brand ambassador if you like for Maker’s Mark as well – Brigitte great to have you with us

B: Thank you, I’m the U.S – I wish I was in the UK –

H: US

B: But I can’t wait to stick my head down in the barrels, it’s going to be great

H: Ok so as a bit of what they call nosing of the barrels. Now if we take those lids off there

K: Thank you Simon

H: Before we do all of that, let me just pass you a piece of that barrel – just explain why that’s so black on the inside

K: One of the things a bourbon barrel has to be is charred on the inside, and this is literally where they set the wood on fire, in Maker’s Mark our wood’s been air seasoned for 9 months to a year, and then they take it inside and then they set this on fire to caramelise the wood sugars and it’s going to cause a great amount of char on the outside, but underneath that a nice layer of caramel

H: Ok well let’s get onto a little bit of what they call a nosing of the barrel. Yes this is your first – for the benefit of those who haven’t got scratch ‘n’ sniff monitors, let me just tell you – yes you can take that by all means – that we’ve gone in here, the barrels that – the aroma that’s coming off the top of that is just quite intense, but just give me your thoughts on this when you – don’t lose your glasses on the way in Simon ok?

S: I’m going to dive in, the water’s fine, alright! It smells like home. This barrel’s made the trip a couple of times, right, originally from Kentucky and then it’s gone to US ambassador for Laphroaig, to Isla for 10 years it’s been sitting in the cask and then we’ve sent the barrel back, back here for a special trip back for this tasting here tonight

K: So this is kind of a homecoming for this barrel

S: This is a homecoming, but you get the salt, the sense of the sea, beautiful brownie quality, that sweet quality. Combination of the vanilla caramel notes as well, which is the influence of the bourbon casks that come here from Maker’s Mark

H: Ok that’s our first barrel, that’s one that’s gone there and come back. Now Brigitte your turn. Just explain what’s in this one?

BG: This barrel was just dumped two weeks ago, here at the distillery, and there’s a little bit left at the bottom and I really wish that I would have been given a large straw for a sample, but the nosing will be just fine

H: Ok, away you go with the nosing. This is like apple bobbing without the apples, it really is

BG: Smells delicious – all the caramel’s been – the bourbon has aged with all the caramel as Kevin was saying, it was right under the char and it smells delicious. Lots of vanilla – that sweet taste that we like at Maker’s Mark

H: This is – this is just absolutely fantastic, it really does smell great, we’ve already looked at the charring inside there so we see what it’s like, and the aroma that’s now filling this room, it’s really escaping on its way out. We’ve already had a look at that little piece there, we’ve seen what that looks like, so we can see that it’s charred on the inside. Ok are we going to leave those open – let them air

K: Yes unless Simon climbs inside there – we might have to –

H: If you disappear and there’s just a kilt hanging out over the top Simon we know exactly –

K: Yes that’s a scary thought, I don’t like that picture, I’m going to –

H: Guys thank you very much indeed for joining us, Kevin’s making his way back to the panel. Well that’s the barrels for now and if there are any questions then please by all means, by all means send those questions in. In the meantime the bit that we all really enjoy and that is the tastings. Now we have 4 to taste and then we have some cocktails to come after. Let’s go to the straight tastings first of all, we’re tasting the Laphroaig ten year old, Laphroaig 18 and Laphroaig 25 and the Maker’s Mark as well, so we’ve got 4 to taste here. Let’s start off with the 10 year old Laphroaig – John just take us through the Laphroaig for starters and what we’re looking for to start off with here?

J: Ok we’re going to start with a ten year old here, and to me this is Laphroaig, it is our main market, it counts for about 70% of our case sales, what you’re going to get – you’re going to get kind of two or three things here. Mainly you get two things from the distillery. Because we still have the floor malt in the distillery we’re able to produce a slightly different smoky flavour, peaty flavour than most other places, and because in the still house we have small copper pot stills, probably about 4500 litres or a thousand gallons. These produce a really fruity new spirit. And then the last part, what we’ve just looked at, the Maker’s cast – these give a lot of, kind of oaky spiciness coming through, and you should get that within this 10 year old. So when you nose, a lot of the vanilla sweetness coming through

H: Again if you’re at home and you’ve got some 10 year olds at home, now’s a great opportunity to get that out

J: Yes, oh yes. We want to be sharing it with you as well

H: Absolutely

J: You’ll get that – what’s going to happen – there’s a bit of spiciness in there as well, it’s going to come over on the tongue and then move out to the edges, becoming nice and salty as well

H: Alright. Away you go with the tastings. Whilst you’re doing that let me tell you that we have got a lot of people who have already contacted us, they’ve got the whisky open, they’re – they’re taking out their favourite expression, they’ve got it there waiting for your comments so you can match them with theirs. Let’s just go down the panel here and see what we’re getting from that. Kevin let’s go to you first

K: It’s surprising how much I don’t think it’s the Maker’s flavour so much as it is an influence, but it hits on those notes that remind me a little bit of Maker’s, but obviously as strong, well peated Scotch. I really think that’s a nice Scotch. Well done John!

J: Thanks

H: Over to you John

JH: And what I like about it is actually the balance. I mean it’s not just one-dimensionally peaty and smoky, I mean there’s a nice, soft, sweet, vanilla underbelly to the whisky that also it gives it a nice balance and a good marriage of those, in addition to the – you know the seaweed and the brine and all the other more subtle components I think it’s – that’s one of the things that- good qualities that come out in the whisky

H: Ok well we’ve got good points coming there. John I could ask you about it but you know this one inside out and you’ve talked about this one so many times, and as you said this amounts for over 70% –

J: Yes that’s Laphroaig to most people around the world. It goes to pretty much most countries around the world as well. I’ve even heard of people finding it in some mud huts in Ethiopia and that, so we get out there and when people like Laphroaig they like Laphroaig

H: Ok we’ve got a question from Susan Kenworthy, Susan thank you very much indeed for your question. She says “I always thought the smokiness of Laphroaig came from the peat smoke, but does some of it come from the charred insides of the barrels or has that disappeared by the time the whisky is added?” So there’s a good question

K: I’ll take that one for a second, I don’t think any of it’s really coming from the char, I think most of that smokiness is coming from what they’ve done to the malt in Scotland and Isla using that peat, and that’s as far as I know about that, but in terms of the burning of the barrel, there is a little bit of that burnt wood taste that will always be there

H: You’re all nodding sagely to that, do you want to add to that?

J: Yes it’s very much a kind of – the way we beat the malted barley that we use and that’s kind of the main ingredient if you like of Laphroaig

H: Ok. Well that’s our 10 year old dealt with. Let’s move onto the 18 year old – now we should be noticing a difference between the 10 and the 18 – John what should we be looking for in the difference here? Sorry John Campbell

J: Right ok, well apart from the very obvious 8 years extra in the cask, what that’ll do, you will get more of the cask influence, you will get oils coming through. A softer peatiness in this one as well. When you taste it, and we should taste it, you’re going to get more of a lively oakiness coming through in this one. Maybe some nutmeg and just as John was saying, more of the kind of the hints of the sea as well. Right in the middle of your tongue you’re going to get a nice dollop of syrupy sweetness you get with this one as well

H: Alright

JH: What I’m getting is a – one difference, the distinction between the 10 and the 18 is with this whisky it’s almost like a tactile of a characteristic, you know when you drink a whisky you just don’t think of a colour and aroma and taste, but there’s also a mouth feel too, a feeling to it, and I get more of a mouth coating feeling to this whisky, a tactile response than I did with the ten, and where the more medicinal notes are toned down a little bit and softer and more gentle, in replace of that you’re getting a nice, creamy, vanilla, malty kind of characteristic and you can get that – it clings to your mouth. It’s a really pleasant, soothing kind of characteristic

H: Kevin you wanted to add to that?

K: It’s tough to be the last guy because they’ve used all the good words but when I tasted it it was amazing, and to John Campbell’s point, there’s a sweetness – I thought creamy was a word that came to mind. This has a – a – it hit me right kind of in the middle of the tongue and it was just amazing how it just kind of hung there, but it wasn’t one of those sour, bitter notes, it was – and it’s still there

H: Is there a right and wrong way to taste whisky? I mean most people – it’s much publicised how you taste tea or coffee or certainly wines. But is there a technique to tasting whisky?

JH: Well first of all if you bought the whisky and it’s your whisky then I think you should have the right to drink it however you want

H: Absolutely

JH: With no pretentions. Now if you want to really try to capture the most of flavours and aromas out of the whisky then yes I mean, then you – for example you want to go through and nose it first because you can really smell a lot more – tell a lot more about your whisky by smelling it than you can by tasting it, and all the master blenders do all of their blending by nosing, not by tasting. Because if they were blending by tasting they wouldn’t do as good of a job and they’d probably be passed out on the floor by noon, you know? And then in addition to then go ahead and taste the whisky and get a nice, you know, see how many flavours you get there and the mouth feel and all the other things, and look for a nice finish too

H: Ok. We’re going to move on from that. Got a question here which comes from Jari whose in, would you believe, Lapland? We get questions from everywhere. “Lapland’s and Scottish nature are a little bit similar, so why don’t you look at the possibility of making a whisky in Lapland?” would it work? John?

J: It would probably condense nice and easy because the temperature’s pretty good up there for condensing vapours, so there’s a thought. We could probably run all year round and get some good spirit, and there are some distilleries popping up in Scandinavia, in Norway and Sweden, so yes why not?

JH: It wouldn’t be Scotch and it wouldn’t be bourbon, that’s for sure

K: Yes I was just going to add to that, it would probably be tough to make bourbon there because you really do need – in Kentucky – these extreme climates where we can get the heat of the summer, even in the Fall, you feel the heat today, and then the cold of the winter

H: Well I’m glad you asked that because we’ve got a question in from Rolph actually who says “what do you say is the reason for Kentucky being the capital of bourbon?”

K: Oh it’s obvious it’s tied to the water source that we have here because in the early days when all those folks were coming in from the east, there in the pioneer days, they came here and they found this great water that was iron-free, and iron – even in Scotland – if you get iron in the water it’s going to turn your whisky black, it’s not going to age properly, it’s just ruined. So that’s one of the key reasons it’s here. Couple that with the climate, the availability of grains, the oak – it’s just a good atmosphere

H: Ok well listen thank you very much indeed to Rolph for asking the question. We’ve moved from the 10 to the 18 year old. Now inside this beautiful box here we have the 25 year old Laphroaig. John I’m going to come back to you for this, just give us details of what we’re looking for?

J: Well there’s a kind of – just a new release so probably some people wouldn’t have seen this yet, it’s just been launched in the U.S – it’s some of the other markets around the world have been lucky enough to have the first, and this is the second edition, the cask strength edition. We’ve got here. What you’re going to find with this one, on the nose there’s more of a kind of – a grapy turning fruity influence, and that’s some influence of European oak. We’ve got some refill sherry casks in here, about 40% sherry, 60% burbon. It’s the fusion of these flavours, so again even on the nose you can tell it’s rich, it’s round, it’s going to be full on the palette and when you taste you’re going to get an initial peatiness, then sherry sweetness developing round to almost kind of like spicy apples. It very much reminds me of Halloween, this – it’s just about a month away

JH: Yes the sherry cask ageing adds another dimension to the whisky. I mean it’s – which I really enjoy, especially with older whiskeys, you know some of them had kind of a tendency to maybe being aged in wood for all that time, get a little too woody and that sort of a thing, and the sherry, the richness, and the sweetness and that fruitiness and nuttiness of the sherry really seems to balance the spiciness of the wood flavours and that combined with all the other Laphroaig ingredients and – it’s just a really nice marriage of all the flavours

K: Well I would say John you’ve done a good job because when I saw 25 years I thought this was going to be really – a lot of wood and it was just kind of going to be in the back of my tongue. What’s amazing to me is – and it must be the influence of some of that sherry or just your good attention to details. I get sensation in my mouth, you talked about mouth feel John, it’s like on the side of my mouth and literally the cheeks of my mouth, and even underneath my tongue. I didn’t know I could taste from underneath my tongue but that’s pretty darn good

H: It’s finding places that you didn’t know

K: That’s right

H: Alright

JH: Well the nice thing about the 3 that we’re tasting is that they’re all different, you know, even though they have the same DNA, throughout it’s Laphroaig definitely, but it shows you how you can have different moods and want different whiskeys and there’s a whisky for every mood that you have, and certainly with these three you can see there’s a nice variety, and that’s something very enjoyable

H: Great, you’re enjoying it. I know our studio audience are licking their lips there as well. They would love to be involved in all of this, and I guess there’s going to be a question from someone up there, in fact there is a question. Let’s get ourselves over there. Hi your name is?

Duke: Duke Burbecker

H: And what’s your question?

Duke: Well as a Maker’s Mark ambassador who doesn’t really drink Scotch, what would you recommend as first drink for a neophyte Scotch drinker?

H: Ok, good question. Let’s take that one back. What would –

JH: I’m sorry what was the question again?

Duke: How would you prepare Scotch for a first tie –

H: How would you prepare?

JH: How do you drink your Scotch?

Duke: I don’t

JH: I mean how do you drink your bourbon, I’m sorry?

Duke: It depends –

JH: Well –

K: Let me –

H: Go on. You take it

K: Because I’m a Kentucky bourbon drinker and I’ve been right where he is, my first drink of Kentucky bourbon was literally in Kentucky in an area called Red River Gorge with what they call branch water, so I’m a Kentucky branch water kind of guy – but my first drink of Scotch was with my father – legal age – and I actually had it duped with soda. Now it was a blended Scotch, it wasn’t – I don’t think – we talk about using soda here, that might get me thrown out, but with Scotch and soda, something like that, it really kind of helps to bring some of that – that might be one way to do it – I’ll toss it back to John

J: Yes well even kind of – obviously your first Scotch will be a Laphroaig but just even kind of start with a first glass, and if it’s too much you just water it down and water it down, because I mean Scotch in the local dialect is uske ok, that’s what we call it on Isla, uske and uske means water. So you’re just adding water to the water and diluting it down to get the flavour profile that suits you

H: I’m pleased you’re all getting into this question, because this is the most popular question that we’ve had, from scores and scores of people right the way round the world, they were sending questions which were how should I drink Scotch? Now water, ice, neat, soda, John?

JH: I’ll tell you – when I first starting getting – tasting Scotch I actually knew that I would like it before I actually did, and I think what was scaring me away was the alcohol and so what I did was I kept adding water to it like John was suggesting until I got to the point where it wasn’t the alcohol – the alcohol intensity wasn’t there where I could just enjoy the flavours, and then as I got to enjoy whiskeys more and got more used to drinking whiskey, I cut back on the water that I added, but you know as far as you know how you should drink your whiskey, again it really is a personal preference, you know if you – if the alcohol – if you’re nosing and tasting a whisky and then the alcohol has burned, it’s too much, the numbing effect is too much for you, then by all means add water to it, and bring it down to where you’re comfortable with it and like I said before, if it’s your whiskey and you paid for it, if you want to add water, ice to it, or coke or anything else – then hey go ahead, you’ve earned that right. But if you want to appreciate it though, you’re adding water, bring out a little bit more of the aroma, the alcohol won’t be so numbing on the palette, and you might enjoy some more of the flavours by adding a little water to it. When I review whiskeys I always taste them neat first – nose them and taste them, and then I add water to it and then I nose them, taste them again. I also like tasting whiskey neat also because of that textural mouth feel that I was talking about earlier, I think one should get that sense too, in addition to the other senses

H: Questions coming in – Michigan, Indiana, California – thank you all very much indeed for your questions. They’re conming in from even further a field – from India we’re getting a lot of questions, and scores of questions from Scandinavia. Thank you again for just letting us know that you’re watching, you’re with us, you’re enjoying the whiskey as we’re going along. We’ve gone from 10 year old, 18, 25 – from Laphroaig, we’re now going to the Maker’s Mark and I’m going to turn to you here Kevin. We’ve had 3 expressions here from Laphroaig, you only do one expression and the one expression you do is this, the Maker’s Mark – why just one expression?

K: That is probably our number one asked question and it really stems back to why this brand was created. It grows out of the roots of bourbon distill in the Samuels family, making whiskey back from the 1700s into today, and Murray it’s really about the dream of one man, TW Samuels Senior back in – after the prohibition era, he was working with his father and really had a desire to make a bourbon that didn’t have that rough, pioneer, whiskey, frontier whiskey blow your ears off taste. He created this through bread recipes, through talking to other distillers and really getting a sense of what it was about and what he tried to do was create a bourbon that literally finished, it had all its expression out on the front palette on the front of the tongue and literally leaves you with a really nice finish. But if I can go into the tasting, Maker’s Mark being one expression, people always ask well how old is it? Well it’s fully matured, it means it’s been in the barrels for at least the amount of time from the rotation of the top of the warehouse to the bottom of the warehouse, from the folks who rotate our barrels to really bring out some of these neat, rounded flavours. When you nose it fellas one of the things you can see, with a lot of bourbons, and all bourbons there’s really this great caramel / vanilla flavour that comes through be3cuase in the process of making bourbon and ageing this wood, we’re going to really develop a great aroma, alright? It’s a strong aroma. Now we have a lot of grain characteristics because of the corn, and then when you taste it, it’s got a much chewier type of flavour to it. And as it finishes you can feel it out on the front of the tongue, kind of where those savoury, sweeter notes tend to be. You’ll pick up the vanilla that’s really coming strongly from the barrel, the caramel notes and almost a toffee-esque type of flavour

JH: Now to me Maker’s Mark is softer and mellower than some other bourbons, and one of the key reasons is the fact that Maker’s Mark is one of the few distilleries like I mentioned before that uses wheat as a spicy ingredient instead of rye, you know if you think about wheat bread versus rye bread, and the flavour of that, it will give you an idea how much bolder and more intense and spicier the rye bread is, and the same thing with most bourbons who use rye are really more intense and have a lot of spicy character to them, where Maker’s is – the nice thing about Maker’s, what I enjoy about it is the mellowness and the softness and the gentility of it

H: Right. One question’s just come in from David, David thank you for the question. Will Maker’s ever cover – offer a rye whisky?”

K: You know what, never’s a long time, but probably not in my lifetime. My job and my charge is really not to screw it up and keep going on with what Mr Samuel’s created, and as their distiller, that’s my charge and everyone’s charge, Bobby Joe, Danny Potter, everybody that’s out there, so I have to say no

H: Right fine. John right on the end, your thoughts on the Maker’s Mark there?

J: Yes no it’s really, really nice and as we said there it’s all in the front of the tongue. What you do find though there’s kind of second and third waves coming and a real creaminess coming through, maybe about 30 seconds later and it really feels creamy at the end of your tongue. A lot of sweetness which I tend to be a sucker for when I’m drinking brown spirits, as Friends of Laphroaig will tell you, some of the specialised maltings that we do for them, there’s a bit of sweetness in there, and I really like that. Is that just the effect of the wheat coming through there?

K: Yes that part and just remember we have this intense climate here that really pulls so much flavour out of these new barrels, and a lot of this is the new barrel

J: There’s not so much tannins in this I would say –

K: No and that really is a great point. We probably will get to this, but we season our wood – I think it’s one of the reasons you like it – all of our wood has been air-dried for 9 months

H: That makes the difference. Got to move on because we’ve got loads to get through yet and one of the things I want to get through, we’ve just been talking about two fantastic whiskeys, the bourbon and the whiskey, and you know for some people these become the base of cocktails. We’ve got some cocktails in front of us that we’ve had Kevin and John to choose which cocktails they’d like to make. Now one of the cocktails here is a Manhattan. Kevin, why the Manhattan and this is made with the Maker’s Mark

K: Yes this is the Maker’s Mark Manhattan, and this one’s made a little bit more in our style which is to remove the bitters, and in this case we substitute in a little cherry juice and then put in sweet vermouth to try and really make sure that you bring that Maker’s through. Obviously it’s got mostly Maker’s Mark in her but I think the Manhattan is a great drink because the things that are in here don’t necessarily mask the bourbon that’s there, so when you taste this,

H: Everyone’s tasting, that’s good

K: Yes wait a minute

JH: Oh it’s very good

H: Yes that’s very good

K: That’s pretty good

H: That’s a laugh of envy from the audience I know. I know

JH: That tasted like another one

K: You really some of those great bourbon complexities come through, and it’s not masked like you might see with a coke

H: Yes so is that working for you? Are you a cocktail drinker at the end there John?

J: Definitely a Manhattan with Maker’s in it yes, I could do this. It does – you kind of do get a lot of the kind of flavours – it’s kind of more subtle I guess but you still definitely get the trademark Maker’s taste

H: Right. Let’s move onto the Rob Roy. This is the one that you’ve brought in John

J: Yes and it’s basic – it’s kind of basically the same thing, it’s a Manhattan, this time it’s got Laphroaig in it

H: Ok

J: It’s called a Rob Roy

H: Called a Rob Roy for obvious reasons. Rob Roy laddy

J: Yes the kind of the rens, the Angus bitters here and then we’ve got the sweet vermouth and the Laphroaig kicking in

JH: The Laphroaig really comes through on the nose

K: It does. You still see that smokiness. That’s really good

H: That’s coming in nice yes?

J: Yes you’re getting a nice kind of Laphroaig aftertaste there, and even kind of locally there, what we’ve done is we’ve got a mixture of these

H: Yes

J: I was talking to a barman last night and he actually, he likes making these cocktails because they do a Laphroaig rens – you’re not going to throw that down the drain, so he gets a shot of Laphroaig and then he does the Maker’s Manhattan in the glass, so you get a smoky Manhattan as well, so

H: Fantastic

K: Teaming up again aren’t we?

H: They’re just inextricably linked aren’t they really?

JH: And we were talking earlier about getting used to drink Scotch for example or whatever, and this is an excellent way to do it, in a cocktail because the intensity of the whisky isn’t there as much, it’s balanced with other flavours and the alcohol level is lower, and it’s more approachable than if you drank that whisky straight

H: Ok well just to hearten the audience you are going to be sharing the cocktails a little bit later, not these ones you’ve got your own, and they’re going to be coming out to you straight after this programme, so sit back, relax, they’re on the way for you. In the meantime we’ve had cocktails, we’ve had the whiskeys before that, you’ve got to really have something to go with this, and that’s some food. And I’m delighted to say that we’ve brought in a top chef and that’s Jonathan Lundy from Jonathan’s and that’s just outside Lexington where he’s got a restaurant there called Jonathan’s and he’s bringing some food in at the moment, and the food has been used with – if you like – the expressions that we’ve been talking about here. A little bit of inspiration that’s been coming as well, and right behind us – hey bang on schedule. How are you Jonathan, are you well?

JL: Very excited to be here

H: John, very good to have you here with us as well. We’ve got the food coming round as well, we’ll let you come in and deliver all that food. There we go. Smells great. Whilst that’s coming down, tell us Jonathan what have we got, what are we looking forward to here?

JL: Well first of all we’ve got the Maker’s tasting, and we have a fois gras bread pudding, with seared fois gras and we also have a roasted pork loin that has a hot apple cider slaw

H: And the use of Maker’s Mark in that, easy to do?

JL: Yes for me it is

H: But you’re a professional

JL: I’m very used to drinking and cooking with Maker’s and it’s a very easy blending situation. We also have a country ham wrapped sea scallop, and that’s served with a paw paw preserve which is a native Kentucky fruit. I had a bit of vanilla in there as well, it comes off very caramelly and very vanilly

H: The smell that’s coming out, the aroma is amazing isn’t it guys? You’re getting that straight away

JH: I would pay just to smell this food

H: Well you’re getting paid to actually eat it as well – oh lucky you as well! Dishes like this don’t come along every day but can people at home really start using whiskeys like – bourbons for –

JL: Absolutely, it’s not very intimidating at all. It’s just a matter of blending tastes with the bourbon, when it comes to the Scotch it’s a little bit more difficult where you have to pair it with foods that can stand up to its bold flavours

H: Ok. What do you suggest they taste first?

JL: I think go with the Maker’s first. Maker’s items first, and then you can end up with the Scotch as well

H: Ok

K: Start here and work our way round

H: We’re going to let you guys get stuck in here. Which one –

JL: That’s the roasted pork

H: Roasted pork first

JL: That’s a hot apple cider slaw. It’s a mixture of pork –

H: Must be lunchtime in Australia and New Zealand, we’re getting a lot of calls in from there as well, so they’re licking their lips from there as well, and we’ll come to some of those questions as they’re going along there. Jonathan this has been just absolutely superb to see such great creations of food

JH: It’s delicious

H: Looking so good as well. You’ve been back stage sort of cooking this for some time?

JL: Yes no it’s been – it’s been great fun, I’ve really enjoyed doing this, it’s been big time

H: Ok from the taste down there, John at the end there – you enjoying that pork down there?

J: Yes no it’s really really lovely and again just kind of like the cocktails, you’re getting the essence of the spirit but you don’t get the alcohol again so it’s another good way of getting the spirit flavours

H: But is it – that’s the important thing isn’t it John that when you’re cooking with these the spirit goes out of these

JH: Absolutely and don’t bother me I’m too busy enjoying this and eating –

H: I’ll come back to you in a while

JH: Thank you

H: Ok why don’t we take a question that we’ve got, David Gunn whose in – whose a Scotsman living in Melbourne – there might be a few out there I’m guessing. “Is a blend of Laphroaig and Maker’s Mark being considered? Do the panel think it would work and what would the taste be like if you were to blend the two?”

K: You know we have a little bit of Maker’s Mark in that barrel so you’re getting a little bit of that already. I’m not sure John?

J: Especially with the cocktails there

K: Yes I think you’ve already got it

H: You’re getting it anyway

JH: Because a combination of the names – Lapmark wouldn’t work very well would it?

H: Laphmark. The Maker’s Phroaig. It’s not going to work either way round, but you’re getting it anyway because of the barrels and also in the cocktails anyway. But we are getting an awful lot of questions about why these two great bourbon, great single malt, are not blended together – so there’s a challenge for the future. Moving on with the food, what have we got

JL: Ok next we have a fois grois and brioche bread pudding with golden raisins. It’s served with a traditional bourbon sauce, except to bring this away from desserts we’ve added a little bit of demi-glace to it to richen it up, to savour it up

H: So the fois grois and the raisins there, really sweet, rich

JL:Yes and you’re getting predominantly the bourbon flavours coming through in the whiskey sauce, the bourbon sauce rather

K: But it doesn’t overpower the dish. Like the Maker’s it’s almost like a spice that’s being added to it

JL: And that’s the key with all the Maker’s pairings for me

H: I’m assuming that locally Jonathan that your guests, your customers that come into Jonathan’s they – they want to see local produce being used and the bourbon

JL: It is something that we strive to do yes, absolutely

H: Ok well we’ve tasted two of the dishes here, what’s next –

JL: Ok next we have Carnel Bill Newson’s country ham, a small batch, excellent country ham is wrapped around sea scallops and seared, and then we have the paw paw vanilla preserve. The paw paw’s come off, when they’re ripe, very caramelly and so I decided to add the vanilla to it as well, and with the salt, one of my favourites

K: Oh that’s – you’re going to have to try this, this is – wow

H: Just hold him back there. We’ve got a question here from Tom Clarkson whose in Michigan, hello Tom – “Scotch or bourbon with red meat?” Which one do you go with guys? Anybody of you there – I know you’re all eating

J: Well you could actually do both. You can do pairings with each kind of course, with both of these great brands. You can even have whiskey – or bourbon with an aperitif, then your starts, your mains and your –

H: You’re sitting on the fence there – you’re saying bourbon or Scotch?

JH: It depends on how intense – how the red meat’s prepared. I mean if you’ve got something that’s really, really richly flavoured then I might lean more towards the Laphroaig if it’s something milder

K: Yes I’m kind of more – if we’re grilling, you know we’ve got the charcoal going, there’s something about that smoky flavour coming through with the bourbon, I like that. I probably would finish with a little bit more of a Laphroaig

JL: Or if you were serving it with, say this horseradish creamed spinach, then you would have the big flavours to go along with it, would be nice as well

H: We’ve got one – we’ve got one piece of – what have we got there, have we got some salmon? Have we tried the salmon yet?

JL: Ok the salmon, we’re switching to the Laphroaig now

H: Ok

JL: And the salmon I’ve taken Maker’s Mark barrel plugs that the distillery gives me and I use that to smoke the salmon. It’s got a little bit of a maple and mustard glaze on it, and it’s been paired with a fresh horseradish creamed spinach

H: You’re making me so hungry

JL: So once again using the big flavours, the salt, the cream, the horseradish, to stand up to the bold flavours of the Laphroaig

H: John on the end there, using Laphroaig I’m getting in Isla someone must be doing this and further a field as well

J: Yes and with the local – being an island right next to the Atlantic ocean, a lot of seafood comes into the island as well, so the Laphroaig works really well with seafood we find, and especially with the fish, the real saltiness that comes through with the Laphroaig character works really well with any seafood

JH: Seafood and coastal whiskeys work really well together

H: So we’ve got lots of that coming through there, thousands of questions coming in, I’m just being told that we’ve got so many questions, we really can’t take any more questions, but thank you so much for letting us know where you are, please keep doing so. We had a question that’s come in from William which I want you to answer – “what is considered the key in distilling a smooth whiskey or bourbon?” What’s the key?

K: Well there’s a couple of keys. You’ve got to have the right grain combination, you’ve got to have the right yeast, so we grow our own yeast here on site. The fermentation process is also – you’ve got to make sure there’s nothing wrong there, but when you come to the distillation side you’ve really got to make sure that as it’s coming off the side you take it off at the right pruce, for the flavour of whiskey that you want

H: Well

JH: And ageing on top of that too, ageing it not too – not short enough, not too short but not too long. Right in the middle, find that sweet spot for the smoothest flavour

K: When it’s fully matured

JH: Absolutely but not over-matured

H: Ok

J: Yes and just – just as with both these great sites, the people that actually make it are so crucial to the flavour profile that you produce as well, so – yes

H: That’s a great point to say thank you to our makers, and to our connoisseur, and to our chef as well. Jonathan thank you so much for cooking such great food here – I noticed we haven’t even got around to a couple of these desserts here

JH: We will

K: Yes we will

H: You’re going to get round to it – but thank you very much indeed. Thank you to our audience here – thank you guys. You can give yourselves a round of applause because you’ve been great. Thank you very much indeed, and thank you very much indeed for joining us wherever you are around the world, thank you for all of your questions. With the Maker’s Mark and with Laphroaig. John, how would we in Gaelic be saying goodbye or cheers in Gaelic? What would that be?

J: Well you would need a whiskey and you would just go, slanger

H: Slanger, that’s what we’ll say when we have the glass in our hand later, that’s what we’ll say. Thank you all very much indeed for joining us. Join us again next time. Until then goodbye from all of us here live in Kentucky